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Iran warns over 'hasty' reaction

Iranian President Khatami has warned the West against extending
Iranian President Khatami has warned the West against extending "this crisis"  

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran has urged Britain to prevent "hasty, violent and inconsiderate actions" in dealing with terrorism.

In a letter to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Mohammed Khatami said: "To extend this crisis to the whole world is in no one's interest.

"In order to get rid of the scourge of terrorism today more than ever we need perseverance and patience. We should not rush to take revenge."

Khatami, who was quick to condemn the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, was replying to a letter from Blair.

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Blair wrote to urge him to do more to help with efforts to combat terrorism and, in particular, asking him to ensure that the fight against terrorism is not seen as an attack on Islam or Muslims.

In his reply, the details of which were revealed on Wednesday, Khatami said revenge attacks have to be avoided adding that terrorism is a threat to humanity and needs to be fought in a concerted international effort that deals with the root causes of terrorism.

The Iranian press had interpreted Blair's letter as a message sent via London from U.S. President George Bush.

The U.S. has never restored diplomatic ties with Tehran broken after radical students seized the U.S. embassy in the Iranian capital in 1979.

Iranian leaders have strongly condemned the attacks on the U.S. but have said they will not support an attack on Afghanistan because it would lead to many casualties among civilians.

"We do not believe just in order to punish a bunch of terrorists it is legitimate to attack a country," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told CNN on Monday.

Iran has said it would only support a well-considered campaign against terrorism led by the United Nations.

Iran has been involved in a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to avert a war on its borders.

Kharazi has held telephone conversations with his Canadian, French and German counterparts, while Khatami has also wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling for a united international front against terrorism.

Iran, with some two million Afghan refugees already on its soil, has ordered its forces to seal the 900-km (560-mile) frontier with Afghanistan in preparation for possible a U.S. action.

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